Lacrosse Travels to Cal for 2018 Season Opener
Feb. 9, 2018
SAN DIEGO -
- SDSU celebrated the finest campaign in program history last season after posting a program-record 10 victories, highlighted by its first-ever postseason triumph with an 18-13 conquest of Oregon in the first round of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Tournament. In addition, the Aztecs established a school standard with six home wins and collected three individual all-MPSF honors to go with seven conference player of the week awards.
- Despite losing its top five scorers from a year ago, including Kristen Hickey (34 goals), Kayla Deitz (30 goals) and Alex Watson (27 goals) SDSU returns an experienced core of 20 veterans, led by tri-captains Mackenzie Lech, Harlowe Steele and Natalie Peel.
- A starter in all 18 games last season, Lech received second-team all-MPSF recognition as a junior in 2017, contributing to an Aztec defense that ranked 15th in the nation with nearly 11 caused turnovers per game. The Milton, Ga., native recorded 40 ground balls and 23 caused turnovers on the year, which was tied for seventh and ninth in the conference, respectively.
- Steele started 17 of 18 matches during her sophomore campaign, ranking second on the squad with 30 draw controls to with nine goals, 26 ground balls and 12 caused turnovers. Earlier in the year, the Coquitlam, British Columbia, product was selected MPSF Defensive Player of the Week for a pair of outstanding performances in the final two regular-season games at UC Davis and Stanford.
- Peel, meanwhile, made 13 starts in 18 appearances as a sophomore in 2017, ranking seventh on the team with 15 goals, including seven on free position attempts. The Mount Laurel, N.J., native recorded two goals in five different contests, including the Aztecs' victories over Detroit Mercy, Boston University and Saint Mary's.
- In addition to their on-field success, all three players have excelled in the classroom by receiving MPSF all-academic recognition, including Lech, a two-time honoree who also joined Steele on the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) Zag Sports Academic Honor Squad.
- Sophomore Taylor Sullivan is SDSU's top returning offensive threat after scoring 17 goals during her freshman campaign, which was tied for fifth on the team. The Annapolis, Md., product also amassed 15 ground balls, eight caused turnovers and six draw controls while recording a .447 shot percentage, including a 6-for-10 clip on free position attempts.
- In addition, junior Jill Haight is back in the mix after leading the team with 33 draw controls last year, including seven in the Aztecs' 12-11 win over New Hampshire, which is tied for fifth on the school's single-game charts. She also tallied 12 points on seven goals and five assists.
- Junior Katy Sharretts will take over the goaltending duties from the tandem of Katrina Reeves and Katie Merritt, who were mainstays in the program over the last four years. In her final campaign on The Mesa in 2017, Reeves became SDSU's all-time leader with 405 saves and 162 ground balls.
- However, the Aztecs once again signed a talented recruiting class for the 2018 season. Highlighting the group are three high school All-Americans, seven all-region/all-county performers, eight all-conference selections, two all-state/all-section picks and one conference player of the year recipient. In addition, the class includes multiple players with a plethora of prep postseason and national tournament experience, while many have displayed their versatile talents in other sports as well.
- One of the freshmen expected to make an immediate impact is midfielder Bailey Brown. A heavily decorated player from Katy, Texas, Brown was named a US Lacrosse All-American in 2016 and was a four-time all-state selection for her Katy Lady Cavaliers High School club team after leading the squad to the Texas state tournament in four straight seasons. She holds 16 program records and is her club's career leader in goals, assists, total points, ground balls, caused turnovers and draw controls.
- SDSU will play seven home games this year, highlighted by a matchup with 2017 national runner-up Boston College at Aztec Lacrosse Field on Saturday, March 10. The action-packed schedule also features dates with three additional NCAA Tournament participants on the road at Colorado (Feb. 25), USC (April 8) and Notre Dame (April 21).
- For the first time in program history, SDSU will play host to the MPSF Championships, slated for April 27 and 29. With the Pac-12 Conference sponsoring the sport of lacrosse this season, five teams have withdrawn from the MPSF, leaving behind the Aztecs, Fresno State and UC Davis. As a result, the MPSF tournament format will pit the second and third seeds in the semifinal game, with the winner advancing to the championship final against the No. 1 seed.
- The program's only coach after lacrosse became the 19th intercollegiate sport at San Diego State in 2012, Kylee White begins her seventh season at the helm of the Aztecs. She has transformed SDSU's fledgling program to a strong competitor on the West Coast, highlighted by a school-record 10 victories last year. In November 2016, White was inducted into the London (Ontario) Sports Hall of Fame after becoming the only women's lacrosse player to represent Canada in each of the last three decades. In 1995, she played on the inaugural U-19 Canadian National Team and later served as an assistant for the squad in 2007. White also played for Team Canada at four IFWLA World Cups (2001, 2005, 2009, 2013), helping the 2013 team to a silver medal. A four-year letterwinner at Ohio State, White was a four-time Buckeye scholar-athlete pick and an Academic All-Big Ten performer on three occasions. She co-captained the 2002 squad to an 11-5 record and a runner-up finish in the American Lacrosse Conference, helping Ohio State claim its first NCAA berth.
- White also added assistant coach Nikki Boltja to her staff in the offseason. A former star player at Louisville, Boltja spent the last two seasons as an assistant at Stetson University (2017) and Baldwin Wallace University (2016). While at Louisville, Boltja merited IWLCA All-America distinction on two occasions for the Cardinals, earning third-team honors in 2013, before receiving first-team recognition in 2014. A three-time all-region and all-conference selection, Boltja was the unanimous Big East Offensive Player of the Year during her senior campaign in 2014 after leading Louisville to its first NCAA Tournament berth and top 10 national ranking.